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Normative SubjectsSelf and Collectivity in Morality and Law$
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Meir Dan-Cohen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985203.001.0001

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Collective Personhoods

Collective Personhoods

(p.183) 8 Collective Personhoods
Normative Subjects

Meir Dan-Cohen

Oxford University Press

Collective entities, such as business corporations, can have practical personhood, in the sense that good reasons exist for treating them as capable of unified action. But this does not imply that they have moral personhood and so are the bearers of dignity. Close attention to the argument for dignity reveals that only human beings have dignity, and so are the only subjects of the rights that dignity entails. Since communal affiliations are constitutive of self and define aspects of the members’ identity, these members’ dignity attaches to the community as a whole. But this collective extension of dignity does not apply to impersonal social formations such as business corporations and other organizations that pursue a utilitarian or otherwise instrumental agenda.

Keywords:   practical personhood, moral personhood, dignity, corporations, rights

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